Four weeks. Yep, Four weeks since my last update. So what has happened in that time? Well, I have taken my one-act play around the festival circuit with success and disappointment and work still manages to dominate. Funny about that…
However, I still managed to spend several hours most nights to put time into the model in finishing off additional detail to the lower hull and the gun well.
For reasons unknown, I decided to paint the top hull before gluing the upper and lower sub-assemblies together. The start of the process was with a black primer followed by a grey auto primer filler. When this was fully cured I applied the first base colour Tamiya Deck Tan followed by a lot of pre-shading before the three thin coats of the custom made base colour. Then began the This I did by using a mix of mediums which included pastels various washes, a touch of dry brushing and attacking certain areas with modeling knife, files, and drill bits.
Last week saw the joining of the hulls and painting the bottom hull, but I will cover that off later.
To those keeping tabs, welcome back to the fifth update.
After completing the cockpit canopy and interior I started on the next subassembly… The Falcons sensor dish. The shot below shows the finished piece compared to the studio model. Pretty good hey. 😉
After the sensor dish, I returned back to add extra detail to the main lower hull section. As with the top mandibles, I corrected the missing detail on the guide rail sections. (pic-1) I’m not sure if that is what they are, but that’s what I’m calling them. I also, as I did with the top hull, thinned the outer edges and then added extra greebles to the rear engine area behind the loading bay area and continued to add damage to the hull plating edges.
With all that done I then began working on the lights for the engine, spotlights and watch your headlights while waiting for the 3D printed forward landing bays to arrive in the post from the states.
The engine lighting proved the most problematic. Compounded by my limited skill as an electrical and lighting engineer. What does that mean you ask? It means my friends I blew one set of lights for the engines glow and destroyed several other pre-wire LEDs for the searchlights. The later came from more ham-fisted skills than bad wiring. However, after studious effort and tongue gnawing persistence, I managed to get a full set of working lights. Woo-whoo!!! This included a string of surface mounted LEDs to light the gun well addition I purchased.
Now those with a keen eye may notice the section of PVC tube glued inside the model. The idea for this is so when I glue the top and bottom hull together the section of pipe will help add the domed look of the main hull. Now, my piece is only 5.2mm in height, which is a little shy of the length required to gain the most accurate look, but if I used the 6.5mm section as per those who are more skilled and pedantic, it would have meant carving up the hull and adding a whole lot of inner rib sections to stabilize everything. As well as rebuilding the outer wall of the access corridors and cutting away the mandible sections… So my piece is short enough to give me a better shape without any weird distortions.
So a lot has happened on this project since my last post. The original goal I set myself was constructing a good representation of the five-foot model used in A New Hope. I can now attest this plan is now overwritten, trashed and gone. Now the model is tracking along to be a blend of the thirty-two inch and modified five-foot models used in The Empire Strikes Back and subsequent sequels.
Alright, let us take a peek at what I have done…
Once I finished my attempts at re-detailing the top Hull I decided to detail the cockpit interior, exterior, and canopy. The exterior of the kit wasn’t quite to scale so I sanded off the panel detail, added some styrene sheet and redid the area for the Kool-Shade grill and carved out the bottom of the access tube to represent the battle damage. Along with the re-worked panels, I also added more greeblies from the bits box as well as pieces of thin styrene rod and parts from donation kits.
Satisfied with the exterior of the cockpit access way I spent the better part of a weekend detailing and assembling the 3D printed cockpit interior with lights, and with the parts made from translucent plastic lighting was straightforward. More or less. I painted only the front wall of the back wall, used colored PVA glue over some of the holes molded in the plastic and then mounted four white LEDs, two small red surface mounted ones and a tiny warm LED under the main console.
Because the 3d canopy piece is a different to the piece supplied in the kit, the clear insert for the glass didn’t fit so I tried unsuccessfully to make my own from clear acetate. Now after removing the offending clear inserts I have decided to leave them out. I did this for two reasons. The first was because the smudged and glue and ill-fitting acetate spoiled the detail and secondly the actual filming miniatures done have any clear inserts. After all, I am trying to mimic the filming models. 😉
The one thing about working on this kit is it forcing me to buy a cordless Dremel called a Micro. All I can say is Wow and Wow! Why didn’t I get this earlier? The tool is light, easy to use and the variable speeds are a godsend for working on styrene.
Alright. Now I am armed with my new toy, I set to work on grinding back the remainder of thick edges and then continued to address some of the models other issues.
I made the conscious decision from the onset to replace as much of the poorly molded piping detail as I could. Especially going to the exposed inset sections on the mandibles and back section of the hull; those I had already addressed in my previous post. I also reshaped the out of scale verticle flat things on the top of each inner section of the mandibles and replaced the piping along the outer edges.
Then when I was reasonably satisfied with those efforts I tweaked the top of the walkway areas to fix the three circular vents. This meant drilling and grinding out the molded areas and replacing those with some brass photo-etch grills. I also scratch built the tops of the vet housings because I felt those molded on the model were again a little large and out of scale. I then used ca glue to add some black vinyl behind the see-through mesh.
The next thing I wanted to address was the battle and impact damage over the top hull. So with engraving bits, sanding drums, files, an exacto knife and sections of styrene sheet, I set to work using the reference pictures I have as a guide. To achieve the punctured hull look I needed to grind away the plastic from the inside of the model until it was paper thin. For the four bigger holes, I used a thin marker to draw the holes before I dialed back the Dremel’s speed, and carved them away with the engraving bit. Then I glued in some thin plasticard behind them and repeated the process with smaller holes and then glued in the final backing piece. The area above the starboard mandible I literally attack with the engraving bit to replicate the torn and shattered pipes and hull. The big concave dent was done using a semi-pointed grinding bit. All the smaller holes were achieved with a tiny drill bit and the tip of my exacto knife.
The next part was adding the 3D printed fuel towers and thruster veins. Did I mention how fragile printed plastic is? No. Well, they are. I discovered this while washing the parts to remove excess oils and residues from handling and printing.
.Once the parts were clean and dry I reboxed them. Carefully. Then, I started adding the pieces over the areas I previously ground away. Unfortunately what you don’t get with the parts is an instruction sheet on what glues to use… Thank god for the world wide web and professor Google. I also found out that though the printed parts are exquisite in detail they are not an exact plug n play. It is just as well I have a little bit of model assembly and building experience…
Two questions in the header above and both are loaded. Eventually, I decided to start on the engine and exhaust vent area as this is the part I think has the softest detail. Now, I already received the new thruster veins. So I bit the blaster and gathered my little grinder, files, sanding sticks and attacked the plastic. to remove all the thruster veins and fuel towers; which are still in transit.
When that nerve shattering process was done I started removing some of the detail on the back quarter to replace with extra greeblies and brass wire. One goal here is to where ever possible, get a look similar to the five-foot model used for Star Wars ‘A New Hope.’ This is where more of the 3d parts from Tony at 308 bits come in.
The clear piece is 3d printed and comes pretty damn close to the filming hero. The resin piece on the right is part of the older accurizing kit. Another area to sand away are the two small vent things above the resin piece. I think the molders at MPC used parts from the R2D2 kits; what were they thinking?
So after more grinding and sanding, along with my tongue pinched between my teeth for added concentration, I set about adding additional detail using more things from the bits box and donated parts from a couple of 1/72 German WWII tank kits. and resin parts from the original MMI kit. The PE grill still needs to be added over the vents. However, that will happen after I have painted the inside of them. I may yet add more detail to this area, but as it stands I happy with the look when compared to an image of the original filming miniature.
Next on the list is grinding away some of the pipework on the exposed sections of the hull which had little definition. As well as grinding down the thick plastic on the hulls edges to better replicate the thin plated look.
Bear in mind this is only the top hull and the back half at that. Which means I’m in for a long project…
Many years back I did this kit after the first Star Wars films merchandise was released to the world. this was the second generation of kits released after Lukes X-Wing, C3-P0, R2D2, the latter two I still have standing in my shelves, and Vaders Tie fighter. Unfortunately back then this was the only representation of Han Solo’s iconic ship. Since then though, there has been the AMC Re-Release, the Finemolds 1/72 Falcon, a 144th scale version, a magazine week by week kit and Bandai’s latest 1/72 scale Perfect Grade kit. Sadly, all of these latter iterations prove how inaccurate the original MPC kits were. However, in some fairness to the original MPC sculptors of almost forty years ago. They didn’t have the all the fandom and abundant resource material available to them as we do in our digital world. Hence the kits soft detail and abundant inaccuracies, e.g the oversized side walls and the flatter shape of the hull.
Still, over the years’ many modelers and fans have built this kit straight from the box, as I once did, with excellent paint jobs; mine not so back then. And over time there have been many aftermarket parts to help assemble a model which resembles what we saw on the big screen.
However, since my initial purchase of the kit from eBay and the aftermarket resin and photo-etch parts from Blue Moon and Millenium Models almost eight years back,
the science of 3d printing has helped change what modelers can achieve. Something I only realized after pulling the old box and extras while procrastinating over whether or not I should start on the model. Yep, you guessed it. Out with the old and in with the new. Well not completely out. Some of the old pre-purchased parts I will still use. The rest, will either be recycled or stored in the bits box for later. the parts below I smuggled in via UPS from https://www.shapeways.com/shops/308bits?li=pb&page%5Bnumber%5D=5&page%5Blimit%5D=48&page%5Border%5D=asc
The above pictures are not mine, they are from his site.
And we are in the final quarter… Painting to model.
Painting a large model sounds easy uh? grab some rattle cans from the hardware, auto or model shop. Apply a bit of masking tape and spray away! Which if you want a clean one-dimensional finish much like you would find in a museum case, then that’s what you could do, but not me.
This may be a model of a fictional sub from a science fiction novel published 1874 century and then adapted to a Walt Disney film in 1954. By the way, the Harper Goff Nautilus from the movie bears little resemblance to Jules Verne’s submarine. Yet the later version is by far the most recognizable and iconic adaption. But I digress.
Both versions are from the era of the ironclad ships used in the later quarter of the 19th century. So, this was my starting resource for designing a paint scheme. I say designing because there is no actual boat to use a resource. Oh out there in the wild old internet, there is copious amounts of information, pictures, ideas and theories about what and how the filming miniatures were painted. However which one do you use. The hero model was finished with painted sheet copper and brass. Many of the live deck sets were made of wood and let us not forget about the age of any celluloid images which change through time.
Is my finished models color scheme correct? I like to think so.
Now, of course, it is not just about the paint. There is the weathering process to add to the realism, and as an added challenge paint and weathering changes with scale. Ahh, model making is such fun.
The previous posts show the model covered in the grey primer to help find the defects and give a sound surface to lay down the top coats. Now, while grey undercoats are common, it is not always the best color for a base coat. Why? because certain different primer colors can have an influence on the top coats. Whites are ideal for most bright colors such as red, green, yellow or blues. However, if you want to make those colors richer you could use a buff-toned undercoat. If you want them to look dull or dirty then darker undercoats are used. This principle is no different for metallic based paints, which is what I used as the primary colors.
I say colors because there are, from memory, three different metallics I made for this model. For most of my paint, I tend to use Tamiya acrylics, but I also use Gunze, the Games Workshop range, Humbrol, and Life Colour. This time I used the Tamiya bronzes, copper and dark iron. The first image is a test shot of the base color with a rust wash. The one on the left is taken with a flash the other one is with natural light.
You can see in the picture below I had already masked off the lights with blobs of blue-tack and covered the open window in tissue and masking tape. The Wheelhouse lights and windows I coated in a latex masking solution. Now because I wanted a dirty darker look for my top coats I used several light coats of flat black.
Before going to town on the main model I used the skiff to continue testing my color scheme. I’m not sure I mentioned it in an earlier piece, but the rudder, tiller arms and tiller cables are pieces I added. To give you an idea on the scale the diameter of the paint pot is about thirty millimeters. The top picture is the base coat and the bottom is the basic rust washes and light dry brushing
This is a shot of the model after the primary base colors were airbrushed on.
I then left the whole thing to dry for a couple of days so the paint would fully cure prior to applying the weathering effects as per these YouTube videos.
here are some stills of the painting stages and some of the finished model. For those with a keen eye, you will notice the coloring on the top half of the sub is different. This is the area above the waterline where the metals would have oxidized at a different rate to the rest of the hull constantly under the water. In one picture you can see the bottom hatch wheel. I had to scratch built that piece after the original fell off. the last couple shows the interior lights for the saloon and wheelhouse. To reach the finished piece the project took eleven weeks with an average of five hours a day. because I was recovering from a broken vertebra and tailbone I could only manage five hours broken up through the day rather than my usual manic five hours in one sitting. I also airbrushed a clear flat called Dullcote on the light covers to help hide the led’s, which also helps to diffuse their light.
My God, how many leagues have past since the last update?
After completing the saloon and adding some HO scale miniature figures to represent Nemo, Arronax, and Ned Land. I did another test fit. One can never have too many test fits.
By this stage, I had completed the lights and internal wiring. So, I put the model aside and worked on the base. Which in itself was fairly easy to do. All I needed was a picture frame with a themed insert, an MDF collage picture frame from a craft store along with some balsa wood and dressmaking pins to help with the steampunk look.
Then I took the back piece of the collage frame and added the push buttons for the interior and exterior lights as well as the motor for turning the propeller. The 9v battery clips are an additional stands alone power supply for when I took the finished model somewhere to display without mains power
Once I had the wiring and power sorted I added the models stand via hidden screws. I also modified the stand to run the wires from the sub to the base. you can see the deep groove I cut into the back right support. The only thing left to do was fill, paint and weather the base. the channel was filled and painted to match the stand. The colours I used for the base came from my own blend of metallics, which were part of the base colours for the actual model. Of course, painting and aging the base was much simpler than painting the model itself. But I’ll cover that in part seven.
A very (embarrassed) late addition to how I built my Nautilus.
Once I assembled, constructed and refabricated the pieces to fit out and decorate the salon the next thing was a test to see how they fitted in the frame. once the test fit was done I painted the salon superstructure and then set about gluing in some of the furnishings.
The next session involved more additions to be constructed. Although the feature of the salon movie set is Nemo’s pipe organ. However, for the model and the limited view through the large windows, the centerpiece would be the specimen table.
Once again I used the blueprints I had to design my miniature one-inch long version.
It was obvious I couldn’t get any glass that small to make the display case so I resorted to clear acetate, thin strips of styrene sheeting and rod. the top display shelf I filled with assorted colored jars from Scale models and inside the case (Spoiler alert) I used tiny pieces of kitty litter, yes it was clean. I also added large grains of sand, painted sponge and the loose sections of the rubber bushes model railway builders use. The gold latticework around the top shelf is more craft ribbon cut down and glued to clear sheeting.
The next phase required resizing some scanned images of Persian style rugs to print out and glue to the floor and then add the picture frames, completed bookcases, podium etc.
Something I realized during the test fittings was how much detail I could see through the windows. So I made the decision to add in Nemo’s aquariums and mini-laboratory. The aquariums were simply holes made in the plasticard sheet with a film of PVA glue spreads over them and stained when dry. Again I used small plastic jars and bottles, but the coiled rod and gauges I needed to build from scratch with the help of the blueprints.
All that remained was adding the curtains and final wall sections. The three led strip which can be seen is what I used to light the salon once it was installed inside the model.
Over a couple of years, I had admired this kit, and all the while wondered why it never came with any interior build up for the Salon. I suppose it was because this is a semi-commercial garage kit as opposed to one that has all the financial backing of a larger kit manufacturer and then there would be the licensing issues from Disney.
So naturally when the kit arrived I immediately made the bold decision to build a salon from scratch. Did I say bold? Perhaps I should have said inspirational insane. I knew from the onset this wasn’t going to be a case of just wacking some bits and pieces together and stick it behind the 1.5 inch wide windows in the middle of the boat.
As I said from the onset, I always planned to assemble this kit in a manner, for me at least, which suited the subject. Because of that, I purchased copies of the original studio plans which had already helped me with the Wheelhouse and Skiff.
Imbued with a sense of purpose and challenge I started on the what was and has been to date one of my best scratch built pieces I ever attempted. Again I should impress upon the reader that the entire salon, when completed, was almost four by three inches in size. Or to put it in a more visual sense it ended up being the size of an early model iPhone.
After purchasing several sheets of styrene plastic card in various thicknesses and some lengths of styrene tube for the ballast pipes. To start the process I went through several sheets of copy paper till I had reduced the plans down to a size I could use as a true scale reference. With that done I started carving out the plastic card for the floor and end walls and shaping the ballast piping.
It took two goes to get the right length and breadth of the floor, but I was pretty chuffed at how it was coming together.
To help with maintaining the scale, I decided to make Nemo’s pipe organ after which I started on the fountain.
After the organ and the fountain, I began work on the smaller sub-assemblies for the writer’s desk and bookcase at the opposite end of the salon. The writing desk and some of the other furniture including the Persian rugs, curtains picture prints and frames all came from a company in the States called small scale miniatures. I wasn’t able to get anything that resembled the couches the crew sat in when looking through the big observation windows. So I had to file and reshape two HO scale white metal lounge.
apart from the white metal books for the shelves and bookcases I also shaped and glued small strips of plastic together to make the numerous tomes in Nemo’s possession. The gold decoration on each book shelf is actually cut from craft ribbon and adhered to thin clear plastic film and glued into place. The couch opposite the writing desk is handmade from air dried modelling clay. apart from the books I also purchased in scale bottles and jars in different colours along with white metal vases and knick knacks.
The small hanging set of navigational guages was as close as I could make for those which hung in the Salon for Nemo’s reference when he wasn’t in the wheelhouse.